The ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group, Northeim, has purchased Serbian conveyor belt company Univerzal Kolubara. The acquisition was concluded on 6 April.

Heinz-Gerhard Wente, a member of the ContiTech AG executive board, said: “This is an important building block in our strategy to establish a firmer foothold on the Eastern European market. At the same time it guarantees us a stable base for expanding business outside the automotive industry.”

Founded in 1963 and with its headquarters in Veliki Crljeni, south of Belgrade, the company, which makes conveyor belts for the local market, employs 250 people. The purchase price was in the one-digit million euro range.

ContiTech intends to invest in production at the location to meet the demand for conveyor belts. Hans-Jürgen Duensing, head of ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group’s business unit, said: “This plant gives us an excellent base in a region rich in lignite coal. Following the purchase of Matador in Slovakia, the merger with Kolubara provides us with the wherewithal to be successful in Eastern Europe.”

Serbia is renowned for its enormous deposits of lignite, which is found in seams measuring up to 50m. Much of the country’s power generation relies on plants fired by domestic coal. This explains why many leading energy companies are interested in stepping up their involvement in the country.

The Conveyor Belt Group reported consolidated sales of €469 million in 2008. It currently has a workforce of about 3,000 worldwide.